A surprise tour of Bootham Crescent – Home to York City

The Wonderful City of York

Ah, York! The wonderful winding streets. the Roman fortifications. The Gothic Minster. Pubs and restaurants a plenty. So gentle on the eye. Of course, as lovers of football grounds, how can we forget, there is Bootham Crescent, home to York City.

A day trip to York in the off season meant that I could only wonder down to the ground, coupled with the customary hitch up a gate to get a peak of the ground. With the approval of the boss, we ambled to Bootham Crescent from the Museum Gardens. Maybe it is a brisk walk of around 15 minutes to reach Bootham Crescent.

Entrance to Bootham Crescent

The welcome sign at the entrance to Bootham Crescent.

Tunnel running behind the Popular Stand

Tunnel running behind the Popular Stand

The slender floodlights popped into view with the walk along Bootham Crescent. The stadium and welcome gate soon followed, my camera snapping away already.

A Sneaky Peak at Bootham Crescent

As I walked into the car park, I noticed an office was open and approached to ask if it was possible to get a look into the ground. The friendly employee efficiently pointed in the direction of the Club Shop and upon arrival, I should ask for ‘Phil’. I entered the dimly lit club shop. In honesty, I thought it was shut when I first walked past. I told the only guy in the shop that I was looking for Phil. The guy explained he was Phil. I explained that I was hoping to get a bit of a gander at a former member of the 92.

I was blown away by his response. Phil promptly got up, and offered to do a full tour of the ground! He even asked if there was anything in particular that I wanted to see. I curiously responded that, as a ground hopping geek, all of it would be just fine.

Phil duly obliged. Firstly we headed off through the car park. As we walked through, Phil highlighted that Bootham Cresent has to be the only ground where the VIP Suites face onto the car park. This comical tone suggesting it might be better than the quality on the pitch. We carried on through the vestibule, down the tunnel, as the players would, entering the Main Stand, with the pitch in front of us.

Through the Tunnel

We, first of all, started with the Main Stand. Phil divulged information about the age of the seating, the different sections of the press, sponsors and other dignitaries. It had come to my attention that rugby posts and markings adorned the pitch. Phil explained that Bootham Crescent was shared with the local rugby league club, as they had vacated their ground in the hope of a new community stadium, the same one which York City were also due to relocate to. The ground hadn’t yet materialised, and the egg chasers were in need of a home and Bootham Crescent fitted that requirement.

As with all new build stadiums, the old one would be replaced with a housing development. It seemed like the irony of building 92 houses on the plot was not lost on either of us.

David Longhurst Stand

We meandered around to the next stand, the David Longhurst Stand. A gentle sloping terrace, which was shielded by the elements with a tightly covered roof. Phil showed me where he stood, explaining this is the home terrace, and subsequently, the most active and passionate part of Bootham Crescent.

The David Longhurst Stand

The David Longhurst Stand

The naming of the stand follows the sad story of a former Minsterman, who passed whilst playing for York City against Lincoln City in 1990. David Longhurst played just six league games for York City before his tragic death. The club was in the midst of raising funds to get the terrace covered, and with the permission of David’s family, further funds were raised through a trust and as a result, the stand was renamed in his honour.

Slightly sombre, we moved onto the Popular Stand, but not before a slight quirk was highlighted. Running all the way along the back and underneath the Popular Stand was a dim and slightly eerie tunnel. It was now condemned, and as we stood just a few metres in the tunnel, Phil retold tales of opposing fans running through the tunnel to scrap against each other at half time! This seemed like a bygone era, as weeds and old material were left unattended here.

Toilet Break

As we sauntered along the Popular Stand, Phil quipped up to exclaim “We have the worst toilets in any football ground”. I’ve never been so intrigued to see football stadiums toilets in all my life, and my gosh, they didn’t disappoint! A thin plastic roof, barely screwed down, and concrete blocks completed the main structure, whilst the crooked back wall made for the relief station. The females were dilapidated portaloos, and the gents hideous outhouse was in contrast with the extra soft toilet paper placed on the cistern. The club gym lurked around the corner from this cesspit.

Worst Toilets in British football?

Worst Toilets in British football?

Finaly we reached the last stand, the Grosvesor Road End. A twisted terrace following the line of the road behind it. Huge parts of it were now condemned and huge wooden boarding was erected to keep fans away. In contrast with the David Longhurst Stand, this was in poor condition and open to the elements. With this end reserved for the away following (including the rancid toilets too I guess), Phil informed it was seldom used at full capacity, especially with the club slipping down the footballing pyramid.

Condemned Grosvesor Road End

The double condemnation of the Grosvesor Road End

The Players Facilities

We walked back to the dugouts, viewing the famous water tower, the groundsman’s HQ (with a plastic fox to keep unwanted visitors off the pitch) and the dilapidated disabled section, which reminds me of some bus stops I’ve seen going through Liverpool. Back through the tunnel and we were able to tour the home and away changing rooms. There was a distinct size and quality difference between home and away! As a result Legend has it one away team would rather change on their team bus, than use the facilities at Bootham Crescent. My mind flashed back to York’s famous League Cup win over Manchester United in the mid-90’s, as I envisioned Sir Alex Ferguson, players and other staff crammed into this space. A far cry from luxury, even considering for a Premier League team in the 90’s.

Fines table for York City FC.

Fines table for York City FC.

Classic Turnstile from the Grosvesor Road End

Classic Turnstile from the Grosvesor Road End

Winding Up

We ended the tour with a quick view of the referees and physio rooms, before heading back into the car park and finishing the tour. Phil wrapped up with some further whit, jovially joking at the state of the club and stadium, but it was clear there was hurt too. This former member of the 92 was suffering in the sixth tier of the football system. I wished Phil all the best for the future, and walked away from Bootham Crescent, ecstatic to have experienced that private tour!

Away Changing Room.

The not so spacious away changing room.

In conclusion, York is a wonderful and quaint city. Therefore it would be great for a weekend away with your better half. If there isn’t a game on, maybe pop down to the ground anyway and ask for Phil. A true gentleman who will walk you around his favourite castle in York.

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